Commonwealth Bank invests $450k in Indigenous education

16 May 2007

Commonwealth Bank Foundation supports Indigenous Education

In the lead up to National Reconciliation Week (May 27 to June 3), the Commonwealth Bank Foundation has announced it will contribute $450,000 towards Indigenous youth education.

The Foundation will support the St Joseph’s College Indigenous Scholarship Fund which draws boys from over 24 rural and regional communities throughout NSW. Currently 41 indigenous students attend the College from areas as far away as Bourke and Walgett.

The College Fund has been recognised as the leading Indigenous Scholarship program in Australia and is being promoted as a template for other schools throughout the country.

Tristan Wills, Executive General Manager, Community, Reputation and Sponsorship, for the Commonwealth Bank said, "The Indigenous Fund is a fantastic and very important education program that the Commonwealth Bank Foundation is proud to be supporting.

"As the 11th Anniversary of National Reconciliation Week is upon us, it’s an opportune time for us to strengthen our support of indigenous programs."

Chairman of the Indigenous Fund, Andrew Penfold believes that Australians need to push for more programs like those offered at St Joseph’s.

"A high quality education is the most critical factor in changing the lives of marginalised children, and nowhere is this more true than in the case of Indigenous children," he said.

A ceremony is being held in Sydney today at 6pm, to announce the partnership with the Foundation and other corporate sponsors.

The Commonwealth Bank Foundation is committed to Indigenous Australia, with a number of programs in development and several currently in place, including:

Caritas/Centacare - "Manage Your Income, Manage Your Life" Project
"Manage your Income, Manage your life" is a project run in conjunction with Caritas and Centacare Wilcannia/Forbes that aims to train and resource Indigenous communities in financial management skills. Geographical coverage includes all of outback NSW from the Queensland to Victorian borders, west of Parkes.

The program employs three indigenous financial counsellors and works with community groups to provide life and money skills.

Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN)
"Personal Finance and Consumer Assistance" Program

ICAN’s Personal Finance and Consumer Assistance Training" program teaches community service providers how to assist and educate Indigenous communities about financial issues.

The program is being implemented across 20 remote Indigenous communities in Queensland. Kowanyama, Pormpuraaw, Mapoon, Mornington, Doomadgee and Napranum will be the first communities to benefit from the training and education program.

Aboriginal Employment Strategy
The Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) operates a School Based Traineeship (SBT) Program which allows high school students to complete a traineeship while studying for their HSC. The SBT encourages the student to stay at school and complete their HSC; they get paid for their time at their host employer and receive a Certificate 2 in Business Services on completion of their HSC.

The Program provides opportunities for Indigenous students, giving them workplace experience and skills which will assist them when they finish school.

The Commonwealth Bank currently has 32 SBT participants working in bank branches, with 59 students joining the Bank team in the next intake.


About St Joseph’s College Indigenous Fund
The Indigenous Scholarship Fund at St Joseph’s College draws Indigenous boys from over 24 rural and regional communities throughout NSW. This programme has been recognised as the leading one of its kind in the country and is being held as a template for other schools throughout Australia.

About the Commonwealth Bank Foundation
The Commonwealth Bank has been supporting education for more than 75 years, since the introduction of school banking. In 2003 the Commonwealth Bank Foundation was established to further encourage developments in education, particularly financial literacy.

Media contacts:

Bryan Fitzgerald
General Manager, Media & Issues Management
Commonwealth Bank
Phone: (02) 9378 2663
Mob: 0414 789 649

Carla Webb/Cathy Ewart
Horizon Communication Group
Phone: (02) 8572 5621 or (02) 8572 5625
Mob: 0403 675 096